Community counts: advancing cancer research across the globe

The RCH and MCRI are assisting groundbreaking cancer research across the globe thanks to community generosity.

Primarily supported by Cancer in Kids Auxiliary and Leukaemia Auxiliary @ RCH, the Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) Tissue Bank collects solid tumour, blood and bone marrow samples from oncology patients to learn more about cancer in children.

Samples are obtained from families who consent to their use for research purposes. The process of obtaining samples for research is rigorous. Applications are scientifically assessed by an oversight committee consisting of scientists, surgeons, pathologists, haematologists, as well as the clinical trials and legal teams.

“Samples are preserved with the utmost care and dignity for future clinical and research purposes. Over 50 staff including consultants, surgeons, haematologists, oncologists, specialist pathologists, researchers and research enablers work together as part of the team.”

“Together we are committed to improving the survival rate and long term health outcomes for children diagnosed with cancer,” said Louise Ludlow, CCC Tissue Bank Coordinator.

In addition to the processing of samples for clinical trials, the CCC Tissue Bank also prepares clinical samples for further molecular testing as standard of care.

Louise also generates cell lines from tumour samples. Cell lines create a continuous supply of materials and reduce the need to collect further samples. Certain cell lines can only grow for a limited period, while others grow infinitely, essentially becoming ‘immortal’. These cell lines are used to test new therapies prior to clinical trials, as well as research into the molecular pathways of cancer.

Childhood cancer is distinct from adult cancer and researchers hope to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underpinning childhood cancer development.

Thanks to donor support, the CCC Tissue Bank has also participated in important research projects outside of the Melbourne Children’s campus. So far, it has supported eight translational research projects and five clinical trials. This has assisted with research conducted by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and the Kid’s Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital.

“The Tissue Bank is an invaluable resource which allows us to collaborate in adequately powered international studies through sample and knowledge sharing, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of cutting edge paediatric cancer research.”

Support the RCH tissue bank